Lawsuits Involving Drones

Numerous lawsuits involving drones have cropped up in the past few years as quadcopters have become more visible and subsequently more widespread. The Federal Aviation Administration is currently working on new regulations regarding the flying of commercial drones, which are expected to become public early next summer. The administration has been working on drone flight regulations for over 10 years.


Model aircraft hobbyists, research universities and commercial drone interests filed lawsuits in August of 2014 challenging a government directive that according to them imposes “tough new limits” on model aircraft use among other problems. The three lawsuits requested that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia review the validity of the directive, which the Federal Aviation Administration issued in June of last year.


“People who have been using these technologies for years in different ways are concerned that they are suddenly prohibited from doing so without having their voices heard, and without regard to the detrimental impact on the commercial drone industry,” said Brendan Schulman, a New York attorney representing the groups that filed the lawsuits. “In situations where there really is no safety issue there appears to be not just some restrictions, but an outright prohibition on activities that have been done for a long time very safely.”


The FAA did not comment on the lawsuits, each of which argued the FAA policy would interefere with their activities, which range from “hobby use to research and innovation.”


Another example of an FAA-related lawsuit occurred in 2011 when the organization fined Swiss drone enthusiasist Raphael “Trappy” Pirker $10,000 after he flew his quadcopter around the University of Virginia while filming an ad for the university’s medical school. Pirker asked a judge with the National Transportation Safety Board to throw out the fine.




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